This report is part of CRIN's access to justice for children project, looking at the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in national law, the status of children involved in legal proceedings, the legal means to challenge violations of children’s rights and the practical considerations involved in challenging violations.
The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) has acceded to the CRC, but the CRC has not been incorporated into the domestic legal system and has not been used by courts. Children can file civil claims in court with the assistance of their representatives, and are entitled to a “protector” if they are an accused or defendant in criminal legal proceedings. There are, however, several barriers to children accessing justice in the country. Before bringing a complaint or seeking legal advice, children must first obtain the consent of their parents or guardians. If an NGO wishes to file or intervene in a case on behalf of a child, it must first obtain approval from the government. Children cannot give evidence in court as witnesses in civil or criminal proceedings. There is no independent human rights institution to monitor the implementation of the CRC and to receive and investigate complaints on the violations of child rights. Frequent interference with the judiciary by the executive has been reported, and state authorities are known to ignore judicial decisions with impunity in cases of political or personal interest.